Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Iona VI - Older Stuff

OK, so no one liked the newer botany and bird sculptures.

I did.

But the Iona Abbey Cloister has lots of things in the realm of hundreds of years old, too. Chief among them are the gravestone slabs, unfortunately removed from their original locales but easy to see as they are displayed on the cloister walls.

Anyone who has read this blog for long knows that I am enamoured of the Celtic stonework in the nearby cemetery where I walk several times a week. It's pretty astounding to see Celtic carvings hundreds of years old on their original island home. These reflect the intricacy of traditional Celtic design and the combination of war (the sword, second from bottom image), sea (the ship, bottom image), and nature inherent in the island life of the last millenium.

They say that Macbeth is buried on Iona, and Duncan, too -- along with a series of Scandanavian kings who sought a holy resting place. No one knows where they lie. No one knows what stories these stones tell.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth (V, v, 19)

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

That is my favorite Shakespeare verse.

I love the stonework. I think the huge waves of Irish immigrants to your area in the early to mid-19th century had a big impact on your local cemetery.